Infiniti Moves Back to Japan

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Nissan Motor Co’s premium brand, Infiniti, will relocate back to Japan as part of the automaker’s commitment to restructuring its business in a post-Ghosn existence. The luxury arm was moved to Hong Kong in 2012 in order to better prepare itself for entry into the Chinese market. However, Nissan now says Infiniti needs to move closer to home in order to promote greater efficiencies and enhance collaboration with the core brand.

Considering most of the R&D work stayed in Japan and Chinese growth has been slow, representing about one-tenth the annual volume Cadillac sees in the market, this is likely wise decision. Infiniti claims it can maintain its focus on China from Japan while also prioritizing America — where it sells far more vehicles. Meanwhile, Nissan also hopes to regain control over its own operation after posting a rather ugly earnings report earlier this month. The financial hurt is expected to spill over into next year.

As a byproduct of the move, Nissan also feels that it will be in a better position to electrify the brand. “This connection is crucial as Infiniti ramps up development of its battery electric and e-Power offerings,” the automaker said in its corporate announcement. “This move also will help increase efficiencies across the business in a hypercompetitive, disruptive industry.”

Nissan previously said that its luxury division would move toward becoming an EV-focused brand starting in 2021 — with every subsequent model playing host to a purely electric drivetrain or e-Power hybrid system. However, Infiniti’s introductory electric (based on the Qs Inspiration) was supposed to be produced by and for the Chinese market. That’s something which may no longer stand due to tepid regional interest in the brand’s existing products, adding to the compelling case for Infiniti to move out of China.

Customers can also expect more shared platforms between the brands. While Infiniti will continue operating independently, common vehicle architectures are supposed to become more prevalent in the coming years, reducing part costs and streamlining development. It’s also aimed at bringing up the core brand in terms of technology without skimping on R&D funds for Infiniti. Ultimately, Nissan believes moving its luxury arm back into Japan will be beneficial for all parties.

The automaker says its Hong Kong headquarters houses roughly 180 employees at present, adding that those who can not be relocated to Yokohama will receive some form of assistance.

[Image: Kazick/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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6 of 9 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 29, 2019

    What parent company? Infiniti is not a separate company - it is just a fancy name for some Nissan (mostly RWD) models for US customers who like fancy names. All Infinitis in Japan are branded as Nissans. Have no idea what mean "HQ in Hong Kong". Is it a marketing division? Because Nissan HQ and R&D are in Yokohama.

    • See 3 previous
    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 30, 2019

      Did Cadillac HQ work differently? Cadillac started as a separate company and did not share parts with Buick. I do not mean coffee shop - I understand GM does not make coffee.

  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on May 30, 2019

    "However, Nissan now says Infiniti needs to move closer to home in order to promote greater efficiencies and enhance collaboration with the core brand." Corp-speak for: We don't want to pay the rent. For all his faults, though, Johan is smart. He doesn't want to bump into the boss every day and have to explain why his XYZ car division isn't doing well.

  • Doc423 Said some automakers were slow to adopt the technology of Smartphone Mirroring, too bad they aren't slower adopting the EV technology, rather than cramming it down our throats.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys i was only here for torchinsky
  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.